September 2 – Rome

September 2 Route Map

Today was devoted primarily to figuring out how to pack up my bike for the plane trip home the day after tomorrow. The most logical thing to do was to find a bike shop here in Rome and buy a bike box from them. But logistically that wouldn’t work because it would be impossible to get a boxed bike on a series of buses and trains from the campground to the airport 50 kilometers away. The next option was to go to the airport and check out the situation in person, so I biked to the central Rome train station and caught a train to the airport. Unfortunately, British Airways and every other airline I checked with apparently does not have bike boxes available. Hard to believe. The person at the British Airways ticket counter told me that it was okay to just remove the wheels, pedals, and handlebars and tape everything up in a tight package. Doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me, as it seems the probability for damage is high. As a last resort I got a hotel room at the airport for tomorrow. I’m hoping the hotel concierge service can assist me in boxing the bike.

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My tourist shot of the Coliseum. ^

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After doing what I could at the airport I took the train back into Rome and biked around sightseeing. If you’ve ever wanted to sightsee by bike in Rome, I would strongly recommend against it. I thought the traffic in Genova was bad. Traffic here in Rome is the worst I have ever seen anywhere. There are literally tens of thousands of buses, cars, big trucks, and mopeds, and it seems like they’re all fighting for the same piece of pavement – and usually that piece of pavement is where my bicycle is – with me on it. Traffic rules? Forget it, there are none – none that are enforced anyway. The mopeds are especially problematic. They weave between the crooked lanes of cars and in the bike lane to the front of the line at the intersections, where they all jam together in anticipation of the green light. Then when the light turns green it’s off to the races. The great mass of mopeds all fight to get through the intersection and to be the first through the one (or maybe one and a half) lanes that are not blocked by double-parked cars on the other side of the intersection. Then the cars are right behind them, leaving bicyclists with little choice but to wait for most of the traffic to pass by and then to somehow force their way into the traffic without getting run over. It’s just a crazy, crazy situation and totally outside the realm of experience of pretty much every bicyclist who doesn’t live in Rome. After this experience I’ll never complain about biking in Anchorage again!

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And another one. ^

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Anyway, I didn’t get much actual sightseeing done, due to the roads, traffic, and trying to concentrate on my GPS to navigate to where I wanted to go – without getting run over or running into a car, moped, or pedestrian. I was able to get to the Coliseum, and spent a couple hours in that area. But then I needed to get back to the campground before it got dark. Biking in the daytime in Rome is one thing – doing it at night would be absolutely suicidal.

Here are a couple of short videos of the Coliseum and St. Peter’s Square – nothing spectacular, just raw footage. Basically it’s just to say “I was here.”

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Tomorrow I’ll ride the final 50 kilometers of my trip to the airport, check into the hotel, and try to get my bike packaged up for the flight home on Saturday.

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